There have been many anecdotal instances of senior citizens working for thirty or forty years to finally reach retirement, only to pass away a few months later. While this is indeed tragic, it does demonstrate something that we’ve known for years—namely, that having a purpose and responsibility is the key to a long and happy life.
Those who retire without any such purpose or plan often sink into depression and ill health. Many seniors are now, in fact, staying in the workforce even longer. Whether this is for personal fulfillment or because they cannot afford to quit working entirely, there are some surprising benefits and challenges that come with this new trend.
Benefits of Hiring Senior Citizens
There are many benefits associated with hiring seniors, not the least of which is the years of experience they bring to the table. Even if a senior is starting a job in a new field, he or she has already had years of work experience to help them be more professional and poised than many of the newly minted job prospects coming fresh out of high school or college.
Additionally, these employees tend to be more stable hires. This is because they are not looking to advance their careers and they are less likely to hop from one job to another for higher salaries or better benefits. But they can also serve as mentors and role-models for your younger staff members to help show them how to be productive members of your work team.
Challenges for Senior Workers
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to being a senior citizen in the workforce is age discrimination. This has long been an issue where seniors are refused jobs because they are considered to be less reliable or less capable of performing their duties.
In 2009, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that made it more difficult to prove age discrimination. Congress is hoping to overturn this with a new bill, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. Part of this discrimination is fueled by the false belief that senior citizens cannot handle technology as well as their younger counterparts. However, many people from the “baby boom” generation are quite comfortable with the basics of computers and are more than willing to learn new technology as they go.
Employers should be open to the idea of hiring senior citizens for their companies. These individuals offer years of work experience and professionalism and a more determined attitude than many of your younger hires.